The Country Music Hall of Fame’s most prized instruments finally get to be played

The priceless guitars, banjos and mandolins are no longer trapped behind glass.

The global shake-up brought on by the pandemic has brought on opportunities for some to “find the positives” as our chat with PRS last month illuminated. In the case of The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, this came in the form of finally being able to put some of its impressive instrument collection into the hands of artists.

Talking to Rolling Stone, CEO Kyle Young explained that “because no one was in there,” instruments could be taken out of cases and put into artists’ hands. “We thought, ‘We’ve got this opportunity that we’ll probably never have again, so why don’t we take advantage of it?’,” he said, talking about the incredibly valuable set of instruments the museum houses.

The instruments were taken out and played for a set of pre-recorded performances, part of an upcoming fundraising event. Ashley McBryde performed Loretta Lynn’s song You’re Looking at Country on her Gibson J-50, complete with a custom Formica pickguard installed by Lynn’s late husband Doolittle. She described to Rolling Stone getting to play the one-of-a-kind guitar: “I walked up, afraid to touch it at first, because the guy that put it on the stand has linen gloves on and I don’t “I’m terrified that my sweat is somehow going to ruin the fretboard. I said, ‘Is it weird if I smell it?’ They said, ‘Yeah, kind of.’ But I stuck my nose in the soundhole — old guitars smell like old library books.


CM Hall of Fame Guitar
Ashley McBryde playing Loretta Lynn’s J-50 Image: Country Music Hall of Fame via YouTube

“I play pretty hard, and I really needed to pay attention,” she added. “You can’t play that guitar too hard because you’re gonna damage that pickguard that’s already pretty fragile.”

Loretta Lynn’s Gibson J-50 is just one of many famous instruments set to be played at the virtual event. Others include Maybelle Carter’s guitar, to be played by her granddaughter, Earl Scruggs’ banjo, to be played by Alison Brown, and many more.

Get a taste of what’s to come in the event with the teaser below:

The fundraiser itself premieres 8 PM Central Time tonight, and can be watched via this link. The funds raised will go towards the non-profit museum, which has unfortunately been hit hard by the pandemic. Marty Stuart is to host the event.


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